Need a closet that adapts with your pregnancy? Jenny Leung is the founder of BellaNove, a maternity clothing company that rents sophisticated and quality clothing for today’s working woman. After graduating from college and working in Corporate America for many years across many different industries, she consistently heard from her female colleagues about the struggles of wanting a career and wanting a family.
Jenny was compelled to find ways to help women through a time of change and transition, and fell in love with what BellaNove could accomplish. “If you wear something that looks good on you, you feel good—you feel confident.” BellaNové helps women go confidently into motherhood and look great doing it!
MiLLENNiAL caught up with Jenny to learn how pregnant women can rent chic, sophisticated, work-appropriate maternity clothing.
Tell us about BellaNove and the type of consumer you are attracting.
Pregnancy is a time filled with so much joy and excitement, and 4 million women in the United States experience this miracle every year. Soon priorities and responsibilities will also begin to shift. Over the next 9 months, expectant mothers find themselves building a nursery, buying car seats and strollers, going to constant doctor’s appointments, attending birthing classes, and reading a mountain of books and blogs.
Throughout all of this, they will also begin growing out of their clothes. Finding a maternity wardrobe that adapts with her ever-changing body becomes an unavoidable necessity—especially for the working woman.
BellaNove (“beautiful nine”) is an e-commerce platform that gives modern women access to sophisticated and work-appropriate maternity clothing via a sustainable and convenient rental model. As a revolving maternity closet, we offer quality maternity clothing and guaranteed fit with less hassle and fuss.
What sparked the idea to create a maternity-wear rental service?
My badass girlfriends! They are all working women who have built up their reputation and personal image. When they were pregnant they all complained about how expensive maternity clothing was, how they only needed it for a few months, and how they felt they had to sacrifice their image. On top of that, it was difficult to find stylish and work-appropriate maternity wear as many of your traditional retailers did not carry maternity clothing in their stores or online.
A few weeks later I was listening to an NPR segment about how Americans were throwing away 15 million tons of textile waste to landfills every year—that translated to 75 pounds of clothing per person! I thought that was so wasteful! That was my aha moment: what about renting your maternity wardrobe?
How does the service work? Walk us through the process.
Everything we do is to try to make her wardrobe to-do list as easy and convenient as possible. There are two easy steps:
Step 1: Browse our closet
Check out our styles and selection. You are free to choose from any category: tops, bottoms, skirts, dresses, and outerwear!
Step 2: Join a monthly membership
Each membership tier offers a different number of items to rent per month. Being able to pick a different set every month gives her the variety she needs and the clothing will be a much better fit, guaranteed!
Our membership includes:
- A fit guarantee
- Free shipping both ways
- Dry-cleaning upon return
- Ability to change membership tiers between months to give her as much flexibility as she needs
- Membership gifting options are also available for friends and family!
Step 3: (this one is for us)
When clothing is retired from our lineup, we donate them to a Women in Need organization to help those less fortunate to also feel beautiful and confident during this time in their lives!
What challenges have you faced in order to get to where you are now?
Public speaking. I remember butchering a speech when I was younger and it was exactly the scene they would show in movies: stuttering, sweating, fidgeting, forgetting what I had planned to say, and running off stage. It was truly an unforgettable speech for myself and the audience, just in the wrong way. I knew I could do one of two things: continue butchering or find help. I enrolled in a local Toastmasters the very next week.
Looking back, this was so important to my development and even moreso as an entrepreneur because I gained a stage confidence that has been valuable during pitches and speaking engagements. Last year I was a panelist for a conference held in UCLA’s Korn Hall with over 300 attendees talking about the Future of Fashion, an opportunity I would have previously shied away from. I’m really glad I took steps to overcome this challenge because today I can say that I’ve spoken at a variety of events across the country and haven’t had to run off the stage!
What were you doing prior to launching your own business?
I have been in Corporate America for most of my life, which is a big reason why BellaNove’s mission is so near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen so many of my colleagues struggle with wanting a career and wanting a family. Pregnancy is often a taboo subject and I hope through helping her during this period that we not only free up her time to focus on other things but also help her look and feel amazing as she continues to kick ass in her career and life.
I also had a stint in fashion because I really loved how we could express ourselves by the way we dressed, and the confidence that came with it. Think about it, when you put on something that looks great on you, you feel great, and you have a different air of confidence that surrounds you. This is what we want to give to these expectant mothers!
I recently went back to get an MBA to sharpen my business acumen and to find something that I would love to spend all my time and energy working on (hint: BellaNove). I’m happy to report that I’ve accomplished both!
What were some of your biggest misconceptions about being an entrepreneur?
“Entrepreneurs are all-in from day one.”
I promise you, the road to building something great doesn’t happen overnight. The stories you hear about successful startups usually leaves out the years of struggle, near closures, heartache and hardships. We love hearing the wins, which definitely provides inspiration, but it also deters some from following their entrepreneurial dreams because they think it’s all or nothing.
It took me years of building up my experience to feel comfortable taking on the title as a “founder”. I decided when I first started in Corporate America to strategically put myself into the many facets of companies to learn how they worked together. I did customer service, marketing, human resources, operations, management, and contracts across a variety of industries.
I then used business school to bring my experiences together and push towards the startup track. It took over a year of creating and refining the business plan, recruiting a team, and validating the business before launching. There were many challenges and rejections along the way, but we would take it all in and improve. Not until many of these ducks were in a row did I decide it was the right time to take the leap.
So if you have any inklings of wanting to be an entrepreneur, it may not happen today and it may not happen tomorrow. But I encourage you to keep working towards it so that one day you have the option to join us on this crazy yet absolutely fun journey and go all-in!